“These days I often think about people who are alone, and for whom it is more difficult to face these moments. Above all I think of the elderly, who are very dear to me.”
– Pope Francis, 2020 Holy Week message
In his Holy Week message Pope Francis affirmed his special love for older people who face especially difficult challenges in these days. The Pope calls upon us to employ a “creativity of love” to “overcome isolation.” As an answer to this call, we offer this growing body of resources to reach out to our beloved elder adults in a variety of creative ways.
When we reach our 60s, 70s or 80s, we look back on our life and it seems that the years flew by much too quickly—we are like Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep and woke up years later as a much older person.
Many older adults struggle with another common concern—the realization that we have a limited amount of time to address all those things we need to do before we leave this life.
As I reflected on my own life experiences, I searched for a source of direction that I could follow to ensure that I identified all of the things I had to plan for and address. We all have to be prepared to deal with the many practical and spiritual needs associated with aging.
When I turned 40, I made an appointment with my doctor for a complete physical. I was traveling extensively, eating and drinking poorly, getting very little exercise, dealing with the pressures of my job and trying to be a good father to our five children. There was never enough time for everything. Sound familiar?
When the doctor reviewed the results, he asked, “What do you do for exercise?” I responded, “Well, I play some golf and a little tennis.” Then he said, “No, you don’t understand…what do you do for exercise?”
He gave me a book that explained the aerobic principle and strongly urged me to develop an exercise routine to counter the bad tendencies that had become a part of my lifestyle.
Special Edition #3 of the Senior Side Column: Virtual Grandparenting (How to strengthen the bond during the pandemic)
Prior to the shelter-in-place order, I made several presentations to parish senior groups on the topic, The Grandparents’ Role in Family Faith Formation. My biggest take-away impression was that we grandparents have a special and unique relationship with our grandchildren. It is different than being a parent because we can enjoy our grandkids without having to deal with all of the challenges of parenting.
We can become friends and confidants to help our grandkids deal with the issues of growing up in a complex society. We can “spoil” them all we want and return to the peace and quiet of our empty nest. We also have the advantage of learning from the mistakes we made as parents and the awareness that we will not repeat them as grandparents.
I also confirmed that grandparents are very enthusiastic and vocal about being grandparents. Just bring up the subject of grandchildren and out come the photos, videos, and stories about our precious offspring.
In short, we grandparents have a great interest in the well-being of our grandchildren and enjoy our participation in their lives.
The special relationship with our grandchildren is what has made the shelter-in-place order so difficult for many of us. Suddenly, we find ourselves unable to be with our grandchildren in person, making the uncertainties of the pandemic all the more challenging on both ends.
Here are a few suggestions and resources for how to incorporate faith formation into your virtual time with your grandchildren.
Dear Fellow Seniors… when I was a boy in the WWII era, the world experienced a great amount of anxiety, fear and uncertainty about the future. When would the war end? Would the axis powers prevail? Would there be a tomorrow for the younger generation? It was perhaps the greatest global crisis in modern history.
The war did end. The GI’s did come home and they became the foundation for the Baby Boomer generation, the largest generation in the history of the U.S. The world went from crisis to prosperity.
Looking back on past crises, we seniors can say that we have lived through the best of times and worst of times. Along the way we have accumulated a vast amount of experience which for many culminates in wisdom, which we also know to be a gift of the Holy Spirit.
But, there is another gift and strength that relates strongly to our experience and that is the theological virtue of HOPE. Over the decades we have learned to maintain the perspective knowing that hope is the one virtue we can pray for in times of need and to be thankful for in times of plenty.
We seniors have been identified as the most vulnerable of all segments in the total population, especially those of us with underlying health issues.
But, the truth is that not all seniors fit into a standard profile. There are a great many seniors who are using their experience and wisdom to provide leadership and direction during this crisis. Within the Church, our Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, pastors, clergy and parish leaders are finding new ways to serve the faithful. There are also many senior leaders in our national, state, local governments, organizations and corporations who have joined together to serve those in need.
Let us also recognize the multitudes of seniors – including doctors, nurses, scientists, and researchers, front-line and first responders – whose skills and courage are being tested daily as they place themselves in harm’s way.
Medical Decision-Making and End-of-Life Issues: Guidance for Catholic Leaders & Families
As we face the realities of a pandemic, pastoral leaders and families need an understanding of Catholic teaching on medical decision-making and end-of-life issues to offer ethical and compassionate counsel.
Last Updated: March 19, 2020
Catholic Charities Atlanta Services
Catholic Charities is continuing our important work by serving clients remotely through the mail, phone and distance learning. Our focus for many services is on current clients with a wait list for new ones. We realize that many families need supplies and assistance due to layoffs. We are continuing to take these calls, working with our partners and doing our best to assist families with the help they need. This link will provide more information of services available and how those in need can contact Catholic Charities.
Last Updated: March 25, 2020